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Game 142: Yankees at Mariners

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YANKEES (75-66)
Damon CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
A. Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Nady LF
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
I. Rodriguez C
Ponson RHP

MARINERS (55-83)
Suzuki RF
Reed CF
Beltre 3B
Ibanez LF
Lopez DH
LaHair 1B
Betancourt SS
Johnson C
Valbuena 2B
Rowland-Smith LHP

Sidney Ponson (7-5, 5.13) vs. the Seattle hitters. [2]

Ryan-Rowland Smith (4-2, 3.56) vs. the New York hitters. [3]

Notes: The Yankees are 3-2 on their 10-day road trip, having lost the last two. … They are 6-1 against Seattle this season. … The Yankees started the day 11 games out of first place in the division, 8.5 games out in the wild card and 0.5 games ahead of fourth-place Toronto.

SIR SIDNEY: Ponson is 0-3, 8.75 in his last five starts. in 23.3 innings, he has allowed 38 hits and 23 earned runs. Ponson faced the Mariners on May 5 when he was a Ranger. He allowed one run over seven innings. The game was at Safeco.

Ponson is 3-4, 6.22 in 12 starts for the Yankees since signing in June.

GOOD MAN IN A PINCH: Joe Girardi made the right choice when he had Wilson Betemit pinch hit in the eighth inning on Friday night. Betemit doubled and is now 6 for 21 as a pinch hitter this season.

LACK OF RUNS: The Yankees have scored two or fewer runs 43 times this season, three or fewer runs 60 times and four or fewer tuns 73 times.

HAS ANYBODY SEEN MO: Mariano Rivera has not pitched since Aug. 29.

TORRE IS BACK: No, not that one. Torre Tyson, the manager of Class A Charleston, is with the team on this road trip. When rosters are expanded, teams also can add an extra coach.

Back later with updates.

UPDATE, 8:08 p.m.: Here’s Joe Girardi’s take on the state of the Yankees: “We’re not dead yet. Obviously it’s a big hill and we understand that. But we still have life and we’re still playing baseball and it’s meaningful baseball.

“Everyone understands where we’re at but nobody thinks it’s too much to overcome. We have a tough schedule but we could win 10 in a row and who knows where we’d be if we won 10 in a row?”

UPDATE, 9:22 p.m.: Hideki Matsui said today he would be willing to play first base next season.

“I’m pretty sure I could play the infield as well, at first base,” he said. “I’m going to make sure I prepare myself to play on the field, not just in the batter’s box.” Matsui will have surgery to repair cartilage damage on his left knee once the season is over. The Yankees, he said, have not approached him about a position switch. “Not necessarily. But I used to play first and third. As long as I get a little work in, I should be OK,” he said.

Girardi said he envisioned Matsui being the designated hitter for “a substantial amount of time” next season.

UPDATE, 10:09 p.m.: OK, we’re about to get underway here in Seattle. For the first time since May, it’s cold enough to wear a jacket.

UPDATE, 10:14 p.m.: It would seem Abreu’s wrist is OK. He crushed that pitch. Well, the Yankees are ahead of their pace from last night.

UPDATE, 10:54 p.m.: The Yankees sure threw some leather around in the bottom of the third as Jeter and Cano made run-saving plays. Cano’s play was tremendous, especially given that Ichiro was running.

Cano is maddening. He makes so many terrific plays then screws up a simple one in a big spot. He has so much talent.

UPDATE, 11:04 p.m.: Great play by Alex to end the fourth inning. You forget sometimes what a great arm he has.

UPDATE, 11:14 p.m.: Can’t say I expected Sir Sidney would be authoring a two-hit shutout through five innings. He’s been helped by his defense, sure, but he has pitched a terrific game to this point. Meanwhile, the first five innings took 63 minutes.

UPDATE, 11:39 p.m.: Sir Sidney needed one more out to call it a good night. Single, single, home run and now the Yankees are down 3-2. You can’t blame Girardi for leaving Ponson in. He had been throwing a shutout.

UPDATE, 11:53 p.m.: There’s a reason the Mariners are even worse than the Yankees. They go up 3-2 then give up three runs. They’ve used four pitchers in this inning so far.

UPDATE, 12:23 a.m.: It won’t be a save situation. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mariano in the ninth. He has not pitched since Aug. 29.

UPDATE, 12:29 p.m.: Now it is a save situation.